The Present Philippine Coffee Economy

As Philippine coffee growers, it is the responsibility of Buenaventurada Farms to grow and harvest only the best coffee cherries within the given standards of the International Coffee Organization (ICO). The number of people living under the absolute poverty line of 1, 25 dollar per day is decreasing. That is the good news. But almost 1 billion people live still in extreme poverty and hunger. 2 billion people experience malnutrition. Moreover the gap between rich and poor is growing. Many people, and young people not in the least, are excluded from economic and social opportunities. Their basic human rights are denied.

To achieve this we embrace two core principles:

  • securing sustainable livelihoods and
  • justice and dignity for all.

 

The Philippine economy was the 2nd fastest growing economy in the world in 2015 according to Bloomberg.  But the country’s economic growth in the last ten years did not translate into poverty reduction and the gap between rich and poor is among the highest in South East Asia. More than a quarter (28%) of the population live below the poverty threshold.

Of the 100 million Filipinos, 55% live in rural areas. Around three fourth (75%) of the country’s poor are found in the rural areas, meaning that poverty remains mainly a rural phenomenon although urban poverty is on the rise. Poverty in the Philippines differs when looking at relative or absolute numbers; while Mindanao has the highest poverty incidence at 38.8%, Luzon has the highest number of poor families (almost 2 million families).

The causes that are identified for the poverty in the Philippines are the lack of (quality) employment; the widening inequality gap (income and assets) showing a large difference in poverty levels between regions and provinces, and between rural and urban areas; the challenges in developing the agriculture sector; and the risk of natural disasters, conflicts and economic crisis.

Governance and institutional constraints are the biggest challenges in the response to poverty. Capacity among local governments for implementing poverty reduction programs is weak. Governmental policies on economic development don’t focus on agriculture, shown by the declining budget for the sector. This, despite the pronouncement by the Philippine President in his annual State of the Nation report last June on the need for an “inclusive economic development strategy.”

In the rural areas, agriculture is often the primary source of income for poor people.  41% of land is used for agricultural purposes (18.2% arable land, 17.9% permanent crops, 5% permanent pasture) and 26% for forest. They depend on subsistence farming or fishing for their livelihoods. The rural areas experience higher poverty rates due to deforestation and depleted fishing waters (unsustainable practices), and the decreasing profitability of farming. But also the lack of business opportunities and access to markets. The most vulnerable groups are therefore small-scale farmers, but also land laborers, fishermen, indigenous people and women.

Poverty and inequality make many Filipino households vulnerable to shocks and risks of disaster. On November 8th 2013, typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) struck the Philippines: the strongest typhoon to make landfall in recorded history. Haiyan left a swath of destruction affecting 16 million people across 600 municipalities in 44 provinces: 6,300 people died, 1.1 million houses destroyed, 4.1 million people displaced.